Packers vs. Lions Preview
At the beginning of every season, we all look over the schedule and mark which games should be wins and which games could/should be losses. The Bengals game was thrown into the win category by most, with it being at home and against, well, the Bengals. As it turns out, these aren’t your normal Bengals. They now have wins at Green Bay, vs Pittsburgh, and at Baltimore. Considering the fact that the Packers have not lost at home to the Lions since 1991, most marked this Sunday’s game as win. Well, these aren’t your normal Lions either.
The Lions have played well against the Vikings and Steelers this year, and even though both games were at Ford Field, they are not comatose this season. I really can’t consider the game against the Redskins, because Washington has managed to set football back 50 years. Mount Union, a DIII school out of Ohio, could beat the Redskins right now, or the Bills, or the Browns, or the Rams. You get the point. But back to the Lions…
Looking at what they have or may not have Sunday, we start with the QB. It’s a horse a piece right now at QB for the Lions. If Stafford can’t go, Culpepper gets the nod, and he played WELL last week. Culpepper threw for 282 and rushed for another 44 yds. He had the Lions inside the Steelers 25 with a minute left until the Steelers pulled off three straight sacks to end the game. They held the ball for six more minutes and had more first downs. All of this with Calvin Johnson out in the 1st quarter and Kevin Smith getting 2.6 yds per carry. Bottom line, they could put up a fight.
On to the Packers. Over the last 13 years, they are 9-4 coming off the bye week. All of this talk about cleaning up your own house seems to work, for one week at least.
What’s working for the Packers?
-They are averaging 4.2 yds per carry. Now run the ball more. Kevin Smith averaged 2.6 yds last week, but the Lions still gave him the ball 20 times. McCarthy talks about being committed to the run. He’s as committed to the run as much as Hugh Hefner is committed to one blonde at a time.
-We have 3 turnovers in 4 games. It’s one of the big reasons were at 2-2 right now with all of the other problems. Props to Aaron Rodgers. He has been sacked 20 times, hit another 20, and has held onto the ball. If Daunte Culpepper had those hits, he’d have fumbled 31 times already this season.
-For the most part, the defense has been solid. Giving up 3.5 yds per rush, forced 10 turnovers and allowed 2 rushing TDs.
What are the problem areas besides the offensive line?
-Offensively, we lead the NFL in drops and sacks. Bad combination. We’re also up there in penalties. All three are huge drive stoppers.
-Defensively, we have 5 sacks and have given up 9 passing TDs. They are definitely related.
-Green Bay is averaging 4.2 yds per punt return. Good Lord. If you catch the punt and fall forward, that’s 2 yards. Hopefully Jordy Nelson is taller than Will Blackmon. On the other end of the spectrum, we are allowing 17.6 yds per punt return. Who’s teaching tackling with this group, Nick Barnett???
– The Packers have not scored yet in the 3rd quarter. This is a huge stat in my opinion. Is this coaching, possibly a lack of urgency? This is something that needs to be addressed. We have outscored our opponents 30-14 in the 1st quarter, but it’s 0-27 in the 3rd.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1) Run the ball with purpose and authority. This will help cut down some of the pressure on Rodgers, and make our play-action package more effective.
2) Contain Kevin Smith. He is a dual threat in the running and passing game. Keep him under 100 total yards, and you make Stafford or Culpepper beat you.
3) Let it loose on defense. Capers- you have a blitz package. USE IT!
4) This is a statement game, believe it or not. Green Bay is coming off a bye week, and this is a game you not only need to win, but win in dominating fashion in all three aspects: offense, defense and special teams. I’m expecting to see the Packers team we saw in the preseason. Flying around, making big plays on both sides of the ball, dominating their 1st team counterparts.
Prediction– Green Bay 37 Detroit 13